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Welcome to my blog.

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I’m Christine. I’m a gal obsessed with haunts, escape rooms and other oddities. That’s what this blog is dedicated to. Most of my entries will be about the west coast since that is where I live, however I also love to travel. Thanks for stopping by.

Follow me on twitter @christinebarger

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CATEGORIES:

ESCAPE ROOMS

HAUNTS

OTHER ODDITIES

INTERVIEWS

 

 

 

 

 

Looking for a worldwide escape room directory? ESCAPE ROOM AUTHORITY

ODDITIES – Speakeasy Society: The Key – California

SPEAKEASY SOCIETY: THE KEY

YouTube Review

We’re off to see the Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz…or are we?

It’s a choice. Make a choice. Should you or shouldn’t you see him? Either choice is a choice, so make a choice. The most beautiful thing about The Kansas Collection is the amount of choices you must make. Sometimes you may not even realize you are making them, but this theatrical event mirrors life in that way.

The Key is chapter one of The Kansas Collection. This was my first time experiencing Speakeasy Society’s work. I’d heard about it from all of my immersive theatre friends, so I had to check it out. I went in blind. I had no idea that the show had anything to do with the Wizard of Oz. Honestly, I didn’t even realize it was The Kansas Collection. I just knew everyone loved it and it had something to do with keys.

My husband and I attended the show together. We got our tickets online and eventually received the location in an email. Upon check-in I saw many familiar faces from the immersive theatre community waiting by the fire staying warm since the event took place outside and it a was chilly Los Angeles evening. Everyone was excited for the show and waiting their turn to be called back for their two person show. When Jeremiah and I were summoned to begin we first met with a vibrant character. (I would later find out his name is Lyman.) He set the mood by asking us questions and getting us involved. He then sent us into a tent to fill out a form. While completing our forms I asked the character Jo what the date was. He responded in a rather unusual way explaining that time works differently moving between Kansas and Oz. Then Jeremiah and I were sent in different directions to meet with our individual recruiters for the EC (Emerald City) to serve the Scarecrow King. I pledged my loyalty to the Scarecrow King. I didn’t just say the words, I meant them. I was told to be observant and avoid the man in the hat before being sent on my way back to the fire. I knew where the man in the hat was. I had seen other participants walking up to him and chatting. I wasn’t sure what to do. I talked with my friends for a bit and asked a few of them if they had been told not to speak to him or if I was “supposed to” anyway. Eventually with the encouragement of my friends I approached him hesitantly. I made that choice, even though I was told not to by my recruiter and had honestly pledged allegiance to the Scarecrow King. It was a moment of weakness. I received some information from him, waited while Jeremiah did the same and then we were off on another adventure.

I’ve only been involved in the immersive theatre community for the last year or so and in that time I’ve experienced a handful of immersive events. Some of them included alternate reality games that lasted months before the paid events, but none of them worked quite the same way as this unique form of storytelling. Speakeasy Society sets the bar for this particular form of interactive storytelling. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. The shows are fairly short compared to traditional theatre, but incredibly impactful. They are separated into many chapters. Each chapter is another theatrical event moving the overall story forward. It’s brilliant. I was not only impressed with the format and execution of the theatrical piece, I thought the actors did an amazing job.

Overall I’m very impressed with Speakeasy Society and can’t wait to experience the upcoming chapters of The Kansas Collection.

ESCAPE ROOMS – 60out Escape Rooms: Outbreak – California

60OUT ESCAPE ROOMS: OUTBREAK

YouTube Review

I love this company and Outbreak happens to be at my favorite 60out Escape Rooms location in Marina Del Rey. Not only is there easy parking, awesome staff, amazing food walking distance from the location, but they also have some of my favorite escape games at this venue. Outbreak is one of those favorite games.

Outbreak is a wonderfully immersive experience. The set design, props, decor, use of technology is outstanding. The puzzles are not your standard “puzzle room” style conundrums, but rather a more hands on approach to figuring out what you might really do in the situation. I find this makes the experience all the more immersive and fun. However, if you are looking for a more puzzle heavy, mentally challenging game you may want to choose one of the other games at this location. However, if you want to really feel like you’re in a high stakes situation or a character in a video game that is going to save the planet, this is a perfect game for you.

There is a serum that you must find to save the world from a deadly virus. I know it’s not the most original concept in the world of escape rooms, but they do such an amazing job of executing the game that the over-used theming that it’s perfectly fine. I mean, just because I’ve played games with that theme before doesn’t mean newer players have anyway. Besides, people love being a hero and saving the world.

Overall Outbreak is one of my favorite games in the nation for it’s creative out of the box style, beautiful set and incredible immersion. It’s like spending an hour being in your own science fiction action movie, instead of just sitting at a theatre watching one. I highly recommend this game for players of all levels.

 

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WHERE TO EAT NEARBY:

SINNERS & SAINTS DESSERTS

One of my favorite bakeries is walking distance from this location. The Sinners & Saints Bakery has a large selection of delicious baked goods (including gluten-free) as well as unique coffee options.

EKKAMAI RESTAURANT

I’ve eaten here every time I’ve come to play games at the Marina Del Rey 60Out location. They have great Thai food with a good variety of gluten free options. It’s reasonably priced and always yummy. They have quick service. They are a couple of blocks from the games. I think they may be in a converted Taco Bell, so not a fancy place but a great local find.

 

ESCAPE ROOMS- 60out Escape Rooms Hangover Game – California

60OUT ESCAPE ROOMS HANGOVER GAME

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60out Escape Rooms is one of my favorite companies for escape games. They are creative, immersive, high-tech games. They always have outstanding set design and impressive decor. Hangover Game is another beautiful room that gives the players the feeling that they are in an actual game room/bar. It looks great.

The theme was unique. I’ve seen mafia rooms and I’ve seen hangover rooms, but this is the first mafia hangover room. It was a clever story idea. They had a fun way of delivering information throughout the game that helped move the story forward, too.

They have top notch customer service. The gamemaster was professional and on top of the action in the room for the most part. She wasn’t aware that one of the tech puzzles was malfunctioning at one point, but she was aware of the other tech glitches and let us know immediately. She gave us guidance without being aggressive with hints, usually waiting for us to ask.

Unfortunately Hangover Game didn’t quite live up to my expectations of a 60out game when it came to the actual puzzles and game play. The high-tech room was a bit glitchy. We had trouble with a couple of the puzzles because the tech wasn’t functioning properly. When we spoke to our gamemaster she tried to explain that the room wasn’t properly beta-tested and they were still working out the bugs a month after opening to the public. I found that to be very frustrating. Most of the puzzles were not difficult to solve per se, but with poor execution they became more difficult than they should have been. There were a few puzzles that used props and set pieces in clever ways and others just didn’t make sense to the story and felt oddly out of place in the room.

Overall, I love the 60out Escape Rooms company and think they create beautiful, fun games. However, in my opinion the Hangover Game is one of their weakest. If everything worked properly, it would be a fun game for new players.

 

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WHERE TO EAT NEARBY:

LOVE BAKED WINGS

My favorite chicken place is a couple of blocks west on Melrose. It’s soooooo good and pretty healthy. They have gluten-free breading for their chicken strips and gluten-free cookies. The fountain soda machine has unique choices and so does the cooler. The staff is great too.

Black Matter Foundation


BLACK MATTER FOUNDATION 

What is the Black Matter Foundation? Is it real? Is it some sort of alternate reality game? Is it a promo for Half Life 3? Is it connected to Stranger Things? 

These are just some of the questions I’ve been asked over the past few days. Honestly…I don’t know.

I won’t get into the information posted on their website, I’d rather you go there for that information. In this post I will share my personal experience so far. 

7 pm Tuesday. I receive a Facebook message from my friend Matt asking if I saw the posts on the escape room Facebook group for Black Matter Foundation. I had not. Matt explained that a seemingly fake Facebook user named Edward Talbert had posted the link to the website in the group. However when I searched for “Edward Talbert” I was unable to find him. I did however find the Black Matter Foundation website, so I sent an email. I also started reaching out to my extreme haunt/ARG friends to see if anyone had heard about it. Nobody had.

Now I would like to pretend that I was clever and creative and sent a unique proposal or something fun, but in reality it was late, I was tired and just sent a wordy email blatantly asking “is this an ARG?” 

I was pleasantly surprised to receive a quick and professional reply:

Dear Christine, 

Thank you for taking the time to reach out to us, we appreciate your interest in our organization. Unfortunately due to the confidentiality of our work and the covert nature of our clients we are unable to disclose much information regarding our foundation. 

However, we have found that individuals who retain the inquisitive nature you seem to possess often excel within our foundation. If you find the time we would love to have you come in to our testing campus, for a free no cost evaluation. Our foundation projects are well funded and will never ask for monetary compensation. 

While we recognize that withholding information may not provide you with the answers you seek in entirety, we hope that you can see the bigger picture at play here. Please accept our apologies. 

Black Matter Foundation

Needless to say I got a bit excited. I responded to them immediately and started blasting my Interactive theatre friends online with the website asking if anyone had heard about this. Nobody had. However, many of them also got interested and started crafting proposals to send to Black Matter Foundation via email. 

A day passes.

Late Thursday night. Last email check before letting my phone slip out of my hand and crash on my face as I drift to sleep…or so I think. Nope. I see an email from Black Matter Foundation: 

Thank you for your interest in Black Matter Foundation. We take pride in capturing the best and brightest minds alive. Testing will begin shortly, applications can now be submitted for those with an access code. We hope to be seeing you soon.

 Black Matter Foundation

There is an audio attachment included in this email. Adrenaline kicks in and I’m wide awake “solving” the file. I aquire my password and use it to access an online questionnaire which I won’t go into depth about here because I don’t want to give away Spoilers for others wanting to participate. But I will say it was made up of fun, thought provoking questions. I submitted my answers.

I will admit it was a bit of a challenge to solve the audio file and complete the questions on my cell phone, especially since so many of my friends were pinging my phone through Facebook, Slack and Texts about, you guessed it, Black Matter Foundation. 

When I checked on Tuesday I couldn’t really find anything online about it, however tonight I know many were discussing it on Reddit and Facebook.

I will be sure to post again when I find out more…hopefully after visiting the Testing Campus. 

2:15am Friday. Posting Black Matter Foundation blog post. 

Oh and check out this Craigslist ad:

ESCAPE ROOMS – Arcane Escape Rooms: The Hideout- California

 

*YouTube Video

ARCANE ESCAPE ROOMS

Arcane’s Hideout is one of the most innovative and creative rooms I have experienced. It is very different in style not only from other escape game companies, but even from the original game at this location. The use of physical puzzle locks instead of the standard padlock is refreshing. They use some really unique contraptions that require players to solve puzzles in order to figure out how to move the devices properly to unlock the next step in the path. It is an escape room with some of the most out-of-the-box thinking I’ve encountered.

The story is a continuation of their first room, The Agency. Your brother has left you a note that will give you guidance to begin your adventure in The Hideout. The puzzles don’t really seem to move the story forward, so to speak. At times I wasn’t even clear on why the puzzles connected to the story, but there were also times I could see they made a strong attempt.

The decor is well done. The room really does feel like a strange little hideout. There is a strong wooden scent in the room. The props are good, as well. Everything seemed to work correctly as well as look nice.

Overall, I think the room is a very creative and well done room. I myself didn’t click with the puzzle style or theme, but that’s a personal preference. It is a good room.

 

ESCAPE ROOMS – Escape Hotel: Jack Reacher – California

*YouTube Video

ESCAPE HOTEL: JACK REACHER

I want to start off by letting you know that Escape Hotel offered free tickets to the general public on their website to play the Jack Reacher game for beta testing purposes and I that is how I booked tickets for this experience.

I didn’t know anything about Jack Reacher going into this escape room experience (aside from Tom Cruise being in the movie) and I didn’t learn anything about the story from playing the game either. I would recommend at least watching the movie trailer before playing the Escape Hotel’s Jack Reacher room if you want some idea of what the story is meant to be about. There isn’t really any story given to you for gameplay, however I think it’s assumed that the story is there from players’ prior knowledge of it. My team did mention that they didn’t think the room had anything to do with the movies aside from familiar faces in pictures used in some of the props. There is a video at the beginning of gameplay outside of the rooms we were locked in with the mascot of Escape Hotel talking, but I wasn’t really able to hear it because it wasn’t loud enough. That video might have given some of the information I was looking for, but alas I don’t know. There was an attempt at immersion through the use of blindfolds and environment, but it would have been much stronger if the story was made clear.

The room layout was interesting. We started out blindfolded and were placed in three different cells where we worked to escape our small cells into a larger room to work together to solve the final objective. It was unclear to us that the objective was not to escape the room. Since we entered blindfolded, later in the game I accidentally opened the exit door while exploring because I didn’t realize it was the exit door.

Puzzles. There were a few puzzles in the room. I hate to be too critical of puzzles since this was a beta test situation. I always try to be forgiving of small glitches and tech issues when testing a game prior to ticket sales opening up to the public and in this case we only had one, so I won’t elaborate on that. I will say that the room has some tech and I assume it will work wonderfully once the room is officially open for ticket sales. There weren’t very many puzzles for the length of the game. They all seemed fairly simple aside from one major puzzle that stumped our group until we asked for a hint. Once we were looking in the right place, we easily understood the rest of them. Sometimes I am not sure if it is fair to say that puzzles are easy when I am playing with experienced teammates because we’ve been exposed to so many different puzzles.  However this time, along with my husband and a friend, I had two random teammates that had never played an escape game before and they didn’t have any trouble with the puzzles either. Again I want to stress that since we played during beta testing, it is very possible that the puzzles will change or more puzzles may be added to the game.

The rooms decor was not as elaborate as I expected. One of my favorite things about Escape Hotel is the amazing lobby. Unfortunately the beautifully themed lobby is not a reflection of the decor in the games that I have seen at this location including Jack Reacher. It was rather plain and parts of the set dressing was already falling apart. The props looked a little more like handmade craft projects than professionally designed props. It’s disappointing that the game itself isn’t more elaborately decorated since it seems the purpose is to promote the movie and give customers a “Hollywood” experience.

This game is a ticketed game, meaning you buy a ticket and may be playing with random customers that also bought a ticket. Normally I dislike playing with strangers, but our team ended up being a lot of fun. There were five of us, which was more than enough to play the game. There were times where there wasn’t really enough for all of us to do. I will say we had fun playing the game together though.

We escaped in time and then waited for the game master to come congratulate us. She did not, so after an uncomfortable amount of time we exited the room ourselves and made our way back downstairs to retrieve our phones from the lockers behind the check in desk. The receptionist called the game master on her walkie talkie and she came out and apologized for not coming up to get us and explained that there is a blind spot in the room, so she didn’t know we had escaped.

If you haven’t played an Escape Hotel room before, be prepared to arrive 30 minutes early and fill out a waiver and create your passport. Also leave plenty of time for unexpected traffic and parking. There are paid lots nearby and some street parking. This location is also easily accessible by metro.

I can’t stress enough that this experience was a FREE BETA TEST and may or may not reflect the experiences of those that pay to play the Jack Reacher game once they officially start selling tickets to the public. I am curious to hear from others that play the game in the future to see if it has changed. If you play Escape Hotel’s Jack Reacher please leave a comment here on this blog post or on my YOUTUBE video for it.

 

 

 

Oddities – Colorado

 

Here are some of the unusual places and events I’ve attended in Colorado. Click the link to read about my experience. Each blog post will include a link to the website for the “oddity” when possible so you may plan your own visit. These are listed in no particular order. If you have any questions feel free to tweet me @christinebarger

Unique Locations:

The Stanley Hotel